I don’t know how the rest of you do it, but each year has a certain “flavor” to it. I look back upon certain calendar years with a sort of hyper-awareness that borders on the savantly autistic, which is why I can name the month and date of pretty much every pop song from the early ’70s to about 1993.
1982 was blissful, 1985 was cataclysmic, 1992 was dreary, 1995 was a renaissance, 2001 was heart-wrenching… you get the picture. It takes some time, perhaps a few years, for a past year to develop its flavor, but it always comes. 2002 defined itself early for me; it has now become a blank, worried slate dominated by my runaway anxiety and the drugs that helped quell it. 1997 is still percolating.
I have a few things to say about 2003. You do too, so please write them in your own blogs, or use the “comments” button below so I can hear them.
For me, it will be The Year I Got Married. So much of my life, thought and physical labor was wrapped up in the preparation for marriage that it seemed like a game of Chutes and Ladders; I walked into May and suddenly found myself in September. In many respects, our wedding was a watershed moment for me, because I finally understood that my rampant self-loathing, long-cultivated from childhood, wasn’t getting me anywhere and was mostly bullshit. That someone like Tessa would marry me, actually go through with it, has given me a confidence that I could never have summoned even with the staff of the Manhattan Project working on it full-time.
Before I kept a public blog here, I kept a private diary in the recesses of my computer, and last week I stumbled upon some entries from early 2000. Frankly, I have never read the words of anyone more dipped in shit. The lachrymose pleadings, the saturnine moans of a person stuck in a hell of his own making, is enough to give you goiters. What’s worse is that the writing is sorta bad. I can take a lot of things from my past self, but sub-par writing is not one of them.
Anyway, the next entry was in October (my diary, unlike this blog, was wildly sporadic) and it was like a different human being was typing. Loose, effortless, honest, funny… and with Tessa. It only got better, and our wedding was the culminating ceremony of a true conversion. It made me feel as though everyone gets a second act. Even the reviled are capable of redemption. God, my friends are amazing.
Speaking of which, 2003 made me miss them the most. Apart from days surrounding the wedding, I became acutely aware this year that we are not all living together. Even my post-adolescent fantasies of having a big artist commune, calling upon the different strengths of our coterie (Ann does poetry, Salem tells stories and gets the steak, Sean sings, Lindsay puts on a play, Colin writes the newsletter, Chip provides color commentary, Block keeps our money, Bud bikes to the next village for news, and Michelle tends to his wounds when he runs into a tractor) seem more distant.
Very few of us have children yet, so we are in that holding pattern of being partnered, yet untethered. But I think that thin, gossamer rope is threading itself for many of us, a foghorn in the dark sea mist that says that kids may be forming. I hope so. This is the first year I have thought seriously about being a father, which fills me with 50% ecstasy and 50% freaking out spasmodic oh-my-fucking-god. Mindful of how hapless haploids can be, Tessa and I always begin each sentence on the subject with “Ifwe’reluckyenoughtohavechildren, I think…”
By the way, I usually finish that sentence “…we should move to France.”
Which brings me to another way to look at 2003: The Year Everything Stayed the Same and Thus Got Worse. It has gotten to the point where I can’t discuss politics anymore, can barely stand to think of it. While we were writing “13th-GEN,” Neil and Bill predicted that I would become more conservative as I grew older, and, ten years later, I am pleased (and frustrated) to report that I am ten times the leftist commie anarchist bastard I was at 25.
It seemed for a while, for a brief opalescent flicker, that the Democrats might be able to present a challenge to the Forces of Mordor currently running the country – but each day that seems like more of a distant dream. The media has fallen in lockstep, calling Howard Dean “angry,” “a loose cannon,” “unprincipled,” “too smart” or “short,” or worse, “a loser.” Americans are dumb, and part of why they’re dumb is that they hate people they think are losers. And god knows what blue crack Kerry is smoking – it’s like he trying to give the election to Bush.
It doesn’t matter anyway. As a progressive liberal, all this wrangling is so much re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic. I think we all know, in our heart of hearts, that we are stuck with the Republicans not just in 2004, but probably 2008 as well. This is a fatigue-filled defeat that will define this year as well.
There is a bright spot – Massachusetts has set the stage for gay marriage. It’s a small victories you have to relish when so much else is so awful.
Small victories are also what we had with the Pink House movie this year. Although we were blindsided by a betrayal already documented on these pages, we had three screenings of the rough cut that went over exceptionally well, given the circumstances. I know we have a movie in there, waiting to leap out. This is the third year of our struggle to see it happen. Please give us 2004, O Lord. We’ve earned it.
And so have all of you. I hope you say goodbye to 2003 with much fanfare, and like me, tell it not to let the door hit its ass on the way out.